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SCASD Hires New Director of Diversity and Inclusivity

by on May 22, 2018 12:40 AM

State College Area School Board on Monday approved the hiring of a director of diversity and inclusivity for the district, a new position that was established by board approval in February.

Seria Chatters, currently an assistant professor of education at Penn State, was appointed to the new role to oversee implementation of the "School Climate/Inclusive Excellence Policy," which was passed in January 2017. She will begin with the district in August.

"I am strongly committed to working hard for our entire community to the best of my abilities,” Chatters said. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work closely with parents, students, teachers, administration and stakeholders in and around the area.”

In addition to her faculty position in Penn State's Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education, she also is currently the coordinator of Clinical Mental Health Counseling in Schools and Communities at the university. A licensed professional counselor and mental health counselor, Chatters has a master’s degree in counselor education and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of South Florida.

According to the job description posted by the district earlier this year, the director will serve "as a strategic partner and coach for students, parents, and employees to create and sustain a culture that embraces diversity at all levels, recognizes and addresses bias, and highlights the importance of maintaining a culturally responsive environment."

The description also stated that the director "is responsible for developing, implementing, and monitoring programs and processes that promote and sustain diversity, inclusion, and respect, and achieve the district’s strategic goals and objectives related to diversity and inclusion."

The purpose of the policy approved last year is to ensure every member of the school community is treated with dignity; has the opportunity to be in safe, respectful and positive school environments; and has the opportunity to experience high quality relationships.

Superintendent Bob O'Donnell said Chatters' hiring will continue the district's progress.

“Having Seria as a full-time colleague will be valuable for all of us, not only for our own development, but also as we encounter challenges related to diversity and inclusivity,” O'Donnell said.

Chatters said she will start her work by talking with students, faculty, staff and administrators about their perspectives and ideas.

“A key factor, in everything I do, is relationship and community building,” she said. “Therefore I anticipate taking time to learn more about what I consider to be our greatest resource, the people in this community. We have amazing days ahead of us and together we will continue to work toward a highly inclusive school district where all of our children can flourish."

The new position was created in part by repurposing the district's family outreach specialist duties following the retirement of the current specialist. Those services will continue to be offered through a realignment of responsibilities for several other positions and will be shared among counselors and the home school visitor as well as the new director.

Reporting to the assistant superintendent, the director of diversity and inclusion is included in the district's Act 93 compensation plan as level IV. The minimum salary for a level IV range is $93,000, according to the current district compensation plan for administrators.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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